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Barnes & Noble unveils store for digital books

Barnes & Noble Inc unveiled yesterday what it called the world's largest online bookstore, taking on Amazon.com Inc with over 700,000 titles readable on devices such as Apple Inc's iPhone.

The top U.S. bookseller plans to charge customers $9.99 to download most new releases and bestsellers - the same as Amazon. The titles now available include more than half a million public domain books from Google Inc. Barnes & Noble also said it will be the exclusive provider of digital books on the Plastic Logic e-reader, a device expected to compete with Amazon's popular Kindle and due to launch early next year. Eschewing Amazon's Kindle-only approach, the bookseller said its digital books could be read on the iPhone or iPod touch, Research in Motion Ltd's Blackberry and most Mac and Microsoft Corp Windows laptops or desktop computers.

The company hopes to grow its selection to over 1 million titles within the next year and include every available e-book from every book publisher. Amazon sells over 300,000 digital titles for the Kindle. “Readers should have access to the books in their digital library from any device, from anywhere, at any time,” argued William Lynch, president of barnesandnoble.com.

Barnes & Noble's full-fledged foray into digital books comes as a host of companies jockey for position in the emerging but fast-growing industry. Brick-and-mortar booksellers such as Barnes & Noble and main US rival Borders Group Inc have been battling a slump in sales in the $25 billion domestic book market in past years as readers head online or seek out visual entertainment. (Reuters)